Communicating digital change

There are many ways to deal with digital in your company. While the importance of a thorough digital strategy is becoming increasingly clear, just having a strategy will not bring you home. Having a well thought out plan, of course, is only one facet of a digital transformation. In the results of the recent Harvey Nash / KPMG CIO Survey, it becomes clear that with digital change, there is another challenge innovative IT leaders are facing.

Planning innovation

More and more companies are creating plans to foster digital innovation. These plans include adopting enterprise wide digital strategies to appointing Chief Digital Officers and Chief Innovation officers. One of the most used ways to foster innovation is dedicating more time to it. This might sound like a simple solution but reserving time for trial and error, is an extremely important ingredient in any creative innovation process. 

Still, even less than one in every five respondents to the before mentioned survey claims that they are “very effective” in using digital technology to advance the business strategy of their organizations. So what is keeping the new and disruptive strategies from being very effective?

The change challenge

To answer that question, we need to look at the challenges that digital innovation faces. Of course, there is not one simple all encompassing circumstance that holds back digital innovation, but there is a prominent element in every company that slows it down. Most people simply do not thrive on change. Change brings uncertainty and it is human nature to avoid that. And it is this resistance to change that is experienced as the biggest obstacle by IT leaders to successfully digitally innovate.

As there is no out-of-the box solution to get people to love changes, communication remains the most powerful instrument to overcome this obstacle:

Do not change for the sake of change

When you want to effectively change your organization, or small parts of it, you first need to know why. For example: You do not want to “make use of digital opportunities” because everyone says it’s important. You want to increase your sales in a specific area and have established via research that an online approach of these prospects can help you with that. In order to facilitate the online approach, you need to streamline your lead generation and connect it to client/prospect portals for an effective lead follow up process. Make sure that you can explain the why to anyone, in a very specific manner.

View feedback as an ongoing process

Your employees are a valuable asset. Make sure that they experience that. You want to know how they feel and when they condone, support or resist your decisions. The manner is unimportant here. Think big (company wide surveys) or think small (group sessions per department) but make sure that their opinion stands for something. They need to be able to speak freely about concerns that they might have and feel that they can contribute valuable ideas.

Practice what you preach

I am a big fan of Do’s over Dont’s. But please do not be that manager that is only on board theoretically. Don’t be the one that bans paper from everyone’s office but their own, or the one that keeps emailing around excel sheets while there is a new an improved policy on reporting. Lead by example. And when you find something hard to implement, be honest about that too. It will only increase credibility when you show that not all change is easy, but that the result is profitable nonetheless.

Author: Dagmar Ingelse

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